Digital artist appeals for public help to light up Market Hall as a snowstorm

An international projection artist is inviting members of the public to be part of a spectacular nightly light show that will transform the exterior of Shrewsbury Market Hall into a flurrying snowstorm in the run up to Christmas.

Andy McKeown, whose work has appeared all over the world, is to project the constantly changing storm onto the front of the building in Mardol Head.

He is appealing for as many people as possible to create their own snowflake for the storm which will be the first public participation storm installation he has ever produced.

The installation, which is being funded by Shrewsbury Town Council, will use one of his unique ‘real time’ hybrid generative software image engines, streamed through two projectors, to create a giant illumination of constantly changing and falling objects on the front of the building.

He will set up on Monday December 1 and the show will be fully operational from Tuesday December 2, running from 4.45pm to 10pm, each night through to December 23.

“During that time the snowstorm objects will evolve. They will begin with images of snowing toys and Christmas baubles and gradually turn into snow as more snowflakes are created,” said the artist, who is based in Shrewsbury.

“The software launches the individual snowflakes into the storm in flurries, each snowflake having its own speed, size, direction and rotation.

“It will be quite a challenge to transform the snowflake drawings over the next 21 days into objects the software can control. Once it is set up I will have no control over the constantly changing images and I too will become part of the audience. Every night the show will be slightly different as the storm evolves.”

People of all ages are being invited to go to the Market Hall and create their own snowflake by drawing an image on a 90mm by 90mm sized piece of white paper with a black nylon tipped pen, leaving a 5mm gap all the way round. Paper and pens will be available at Café AleOli and The Bird’s Nest Café in the market. A posting box will be used to collect the drawings and selected entries will be incorporated into the show.

 “People will draw their snowflake in black, but it will be translated into a white image before becoming part of the storm. I’m hoping for as many snowflakes as possible,” added Mr McKeown.

His production company, Wild Strawberry, is supplying the equipment for free for the project which is being made possible with the funding from the town council and the support of Moss Bros clothing retailer, in Mardol, from where the show will be projected.

Mr McKeown has projected a number of different illuminations onto the exterior of the Market Hall since 2003 but this will be the first snowstorm.

The leader of Shrewsbury Town Council, Councillor Alan Moseley said: “The town council is delighted to be adding to the Christmas festivities by funding this project. Andy’s projections are always world class and I’m sure this will be no exception. The snowstorm will no doubt look magical displayed on the Market Hall, especially against the backdrop of the town’s new Christmas lights.”

Market Hall site facilities manager Kate Gittins said: “Andy is an internationally leading artist and this is a really exciting project that we hope as many people as possible will get involved.”

Mr McKeown created his idea for the show after being approached by Moss Bros manager David Gough who is a huge fan of his work.

“His illuminations are stunning. They light up the place and give that extra bit of pazazz to the town,” he said.

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Pete White Pete White

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